For those readers who are somehow not aware, Lillard, aka Dame D.O.L.L.A., is as legit a musician as the NBA has ever seen.
Even that distinction doesn't do him justice, as his lyrical talent and smooth delivery go way beyond the box that he gets put in as a — quote-unquote — basketball player who raps. He's really good. Period.
A quick personal story that speaks to the strength of his style: When his song "Bigger than Us" was released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2016.
他的歌曲“Bigger than us”于2016年在馬丁路德金日發行。歌曲通過講述一個極具個人色彩的小故事，展現了利拉德音樂風格的長處。
It came at a time when my two young sons were at that age where, as a parent, you need to have those real conversations about things like racism.
That song, which looked at the grim reality of recent events and called for all of us to do our part to make it better,
served as a vehicle of sorts for that crucial discussion. I think about it every time the topic comes up again.
But when it comes to the unique experience of being an NBA player who is also a rapper, you have to integrate your own music into your pregame routine, right? Wrong.
"It's not like, ‘Just let me throw this (song of mine) on,'" Lillard said.
"If I just throw my phone on and click on my music and it starts playing random music and one of my songs comes on, I'm like, ‘Man…'
When you haven't heard your own music in a long time and you hear it, and you actually like it, I'll go back and start listening to more of it. But I don't just play my music."
As for Lillard's musical preferences when it comes to his hoops preparation, he agrees with Mitchell about the value of keeping it even keel.
And while he's deliberate with his playlist during those few hours before heading to the arena, Lillard does not wear headphones once he hits the court.
"I've always listened to calm music," Lillard continued.
"Before my NBA career (during his high school days in Oakland, Calif., and in college at Weber State), the most hyped kind of music I would listen to before games is J. Cole, and he doesn't make that kind of music."
"Music creates a feeling, and I've always appreciated (that). Going into a game, or getting ready for a game, I've always wanted something to keep me calm.
I never wanted to be too excited, or too riled up. And what I listen to, I just naturally played the kinds of songs that I felt at peace and calm about."
Conversely, there are songs that are simply too hard to hear when you're trying to get your mind right for a game — not because of the song, necessarily, but because of the memories attached to the song.
"There's a song called "Foolish" by Ashanti that I stay away from — I don't listen to that song, period, because that song was playing when I found out one of my cousins was killed a while back." Lillard said.
"And that song just always made me think of it. But I don't think I've listened to that song one time since it happened."
Johnnie Bryant, the Jazz assistant who also grew up in Oakland and who Lillard considers a mentor and "big brother," can relate.
"That's just the reality of what music can do," Bryant said. "And that's the beauty of music in and of itself is because it allows you to express how you feel and then also it allows you to recall certain times in your life when you hear certain songs."
"You have those songs, where they come on and I'm in that space now where I'll just fast forward it,
like 'I don't want to be there.' But then also, there's times when it's like, 'You know what? It's ok to be there right now.'